In the early '90s, when I was working as a research asst. in Prof. Bruce Croft's Information Retrieval Lab at UMass, I gave a presentation on my work on associations between person names and company names in full text news articles. West Publishing, a charter member of the C.S. department's Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR), had sent Howard Turtle to attend CIIR's twice-yearly Industrial Advisory Board meeting. Not long afterwards, Dr. Turtle invited me to interview with West in St. Paul. Later that year I did. Little did I imagine then that the journey would be the beginning of a considerable relationship between myself and West's technology lab. After a brief return to southern Africa, I began working for Dr. Turtle's New Search Technologies group at West later that winter.
The journey as research scientist has continued, as West became a part of Thomson and later when Thomson joined forces with Reuters. More recently, Thomson Reuters' Research & Development group has evolved to include the Center for AI & Cognitive Computing. The journey continues.